Celebrity Estate Planning Mistakes   

There have been many celebrities who have made mistakes in their estate plans that caused plenty of pain and suffering for their families and their estates. Here is the list of those celebrity mistakes and what we can learn from them:

Sonny Bono
- Bono died unexpectedly of a skiing accident and had no will when he died, as well as a child he fathered out of wedlock who stepped forward to claim a part of the estate. Creating a living trust is important at any age since none of us knows when we will die.

Jimi Hendrix
- Hendrix intended for his estate to go to his brother, but he never made a will or trust. When he died at 26, his estate was divided between his father and adopted daughter according to state intestacy laws.

Stieg Larsson
- Larsson never got to see the riches his Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and subsequent novels brought, and neither did his girlfriend of 32 years since he never made a trust naming her as a beneficiary. His entire estate was divided between his father and brother.

Princess Diana
- While she did indicate that she wished to leave 100,000 pounds each to her sons and her godchildren upon her death, she did not execute the formal estate planning documents to do so. When she died tragically at the age of 36 in a car accident, her wishes were not honored because they were never formalized.

Warren Burger
- This was also in last month's newsletter.  The former Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court tried to write his own will, and his estate wound up with a substantial amount of estate tax liability. Burger should have worked with a qualified estate planning attorney to minimize the impact of estate taxes.  

Heath Ledger
- The actor neglected to update his will following the birth of his daughter, so all his assets went to his parents and siblings. Wills should always be updated following a major life event like the birth of a child, a marriage, a divorce, etc. Or better yet, your estate planning lawyer should make provisions for unborn children.

Leona Helmsley
- The well-known New York hotelier left the majority of her $12 million estate to her dog. Her grandchildren contested the validity of the will, claiming mental incompetence. If you intend to leave an unusual bequest, you should consult with an estate planning attorney to ensure your wishes cannot be challenged due to mental incompetence.

- The iconic performer and esteemed business person died without a will or trust. Was this intentional? We will never know. What we do know is that his $300,000,000 estate is now being administered under the laws set up by the state, rather than according to his wishes. It is hard to believe that an artist who was so serious about the control of his art would not care what happens to it after his passing. But now is it in the hands of his intestate heirs to manage his entertainment empire as they see fit.
Gadi Zohar Intro Video
Gadi Zohar Intro Video